THE amount of reported rapes against children in the county is rising and among the highest in England and Wales, new figures show.

Statistics released by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary show there were 126 recorded rape offences against under-16s in Cumbria in 2015/16, up from 84 the previous year and the third consecutive annual increase.

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The figure places the locality as the fourth highest proportionally in England and Wales for incidents per 100,000 population.

Hundreds of reports

In many cases, while recorded in 2015/16, the allegations of rape relate historically, with Operation Yewtree, the investigation set up to look into cases against Jimmy Savile and other TV personalities, encouraging victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

DI Doug Marshall Detective Inspector Doug Marshall, of Cumbria Constabulary, said: "Tackling rape and sexual offences remains a priority for the force. Each report to us is recorded and investigated thoroughly, and sensitively, by our specially trained officers.

"Rape is an area that can often go under-reported. We continue to work hard to increase the confidence of the public to report these crimes and it is encouraging to see, by the increase in reports received, that they have the trust in us to help them seek justice.

"Incidents of rape are rare in Cumbria, particularly stranger rapes; however, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure victims that we investigate all reports of rape sensitively and professionally."

READ MORE: Rape allegations recorded by police double since 2012

According to the HMIC report, there were 145 recorded rapes against adults in Cumbria in 2015/16.

Investigation outcomes

The report also reveals the rate of action against suspects, with 20 charges brought against suspects in 2015/16, 18 prosecutions and six convictions.

A breakdown of outcomes for all reported rapes in 2015/16 in Cumbria show 30 per cent were still being investigated, six per cent of cases had resulted in a charge, 55 per cent had 'evidential difficulties' and six per cent had no suspect identified after investigations.

Breakdown of figures

Recorded rapes in Cumbria:

2011/12 Adult = 73, child = 40

2012/13 Adult = 65, child = 38

2013/14 Adult = 80, child = 46

2014/15 Adult = 121, child = 84

2015/16 Adult = 145, child = 126

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In December 2015, the Bridgeway Sexual Assault Services was set up in the county so victims offering can be quickly referred to get better physical and emotional support.

For information about the service, which is contactable 24 hours a day and every day of the year, click here , phone 0808 118 6432 or email